A West Virginia Power executive explains why the team wanted to switch affiliations from the Brewers to the Pirates. This is pretty interesting because, as some of you have already mentioned in the comments, West Virginia will be pretty bad this year. They're one rung above State College and have inherited many players who contributed to the mess there in 2008. There will be virtually no virtually no pitching talent at West Virginia. The hitters are somewhat more interesting (Calvin Anderson, Adenson Chourio, Chase D'Arnaud, Robbie Grossman and Quincy Latimore are all marginal prospects or better), but overall, the team should be pretty awful. So why would West Virginia want to join forces with the Pirates?
"Then, down the road, knowing the history of (Pirates General Manager) Neal Huntington and (Pirates Director of Player Development) Kyle Stark and the player development people they have in place now, there would be a lot of good things to come on the horizon. When we signed with the Pirates, we were looking at it long term"...
Milovich pointed to those records and other factors in elaborating on his hunch.
"If you look at the records of the clubs immediately below the South Atlantic League for both clubs, they struggled mightily," Milovich said. "Below that with the Brewers, they struggled as well. The rookie level club for the Pirates [the Bradenton Pirates], however, fared very well. And the Pirates had a really strong draft and had some good prospects come through who signed late. That will bolster our club a little bit.
"But we didn't think necessarily that you had a team that was a lock to compete for the postseason like we have had the previous couple of years. But I think we're a year or two away from having that kind of consistency with the Pirates...
That is why the Power took advantage of its opportunity to sign with the Pirates, who are "still building and don't have the depth and maybe have to push guys through their system a little bit quicker than they would like to," Milovich said. "But I think they're a year or two from building the depth they would like and starting to really put the type of players into their system that they want."
Go read the whole thing; there's some interesting stuff that there wasn't space to quote here.
The Pirates' rookie affiliate in Bradenton (a notch below State College) was very good in 2008, and it featured prospects like Chourio, Grossman, Jarek Cunningham, Wes Freeman, Nelson Pereira, Brandon Holden and Chris Aure. There are a number of new Latin American prospects who will probably start at Bradenton or State College this year, along with Freeman, Pereira, Holden, Aure, and Mpho Ngoepe. Also, a number of 2008 draftees (Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson and Matt Hague) have already made it all the way up to Lynchburg. So while there's a talent gap at West Virginia right now, there won't be one if the Pirates keep doing a good job acquiring amateur talent. In fact, West Virginia should be fielding good teams as soon as next year.
The Power's front office, whether or not there's buried in here some sort of apology for what's likely to be a bad team in the short term, seems to understand this, and it's interesting that the Pirates' new management's early actions may have encouraged the Power to switch affiliations to the Bucs.
Of course, the goal is to get at least to where Milwaukee has gotten and focus on the big-league level, which might cause West Virginia to want to switch affiliations again. But let's cross that bridge when we come to it.